The United States House of Representatives on Feb. 25 has passed the Equality Act, a landmark LGBTQ+ rights bill that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
The act passed with a vote of 244 to 206, with three House Republicans joining all the Democrats to support the legislation.
“The time has come to extend the blessings of liberty and equality to all Americans, regardless of who they are or who they love,” Representative David Cicilline, who introduced the bill, said.
“Without the Equality Act, this nation will never live up to its principles of freedom and equality,” Representative Marie Newman said last Feb. 24, adding that she voted in favor of the act for her daughter who identifies as transgender.
The act expands the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include gender identity and sexual orientation, providing legal protection to LGBTQ+ Americans in several areas of life, including employment, housing, education, and public services.
The act also expands a Supreme Court ruling last June 2020 that said firing employees for being gay or transgender is a violation of the civil rights law.
President Joe Biden has already showed his support for the act, saying that he would sign it if the Senate passes it.
“Every person should be treated with dignity and respect, and this bill represents a critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality and freedom for all,” Biden said in a statement last Feb. 19.
However, the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate where Democrats and Republicans are evenly divided. The bill will need 60 votes to bypass a filibuster.
The bill comes as a recent poll conducted by management consulting company revealed that an estimated record number of 18 million Americans identify as LGBTQ.